The Karen Hart Band is Chicagoland's premiere female-fronted Classic Rock cover band!! KHB entertains all ages with their great song selection and endless energy. What sets them apart is that they are a rock solid band with four experienced musicians who know how to put on a show! In addition, since everyone sings, KHB provides the variety people continue to come out to see.
Check out their YouTube channel (www.YouTube.com/KarenHartBand) and see for yourself.
Or just ask their fans, KHB has won numerous awards including Best Cover Band, Best Dance Band, Best Rock Band, Best Classic Rock, Favorite Female Lead Singer - Karen Hart and Favorite Guitarist - Norm Leonard and Best Musician Keyboards along with coming in as runners up in six other categories in Suburban NiteLife’s "Best of the Burbs" contest.
Whether it is a club, corporate event, private event or festival, KHB “brings the party”!
Sharing the stage with national acts including the Gin Blossoms, the Smithereens, Dennis DeYoung, The Ides of March, Davy Jones and American English, Karen Hart has been ROCKIN’ around the Midwest including;
The Taste of Chicago
Naperville Last Fling
Lisle Eyes to the Skies
Taste of Polonia
Taste of Lombard
Batavia Windmill City Fest
Carol Stream Fest
Bartlett 4th of July Fest
Berwyn Centennial Festival
West Chicago Railroad Days
Winfield Good Old Days
Eli’s Cheesecake Fest
Long Grove Apple Festival
Long Grove Strawberry Festival
Monee Fall Faire
The Rosemont Horizon
Cedar Rapids Freedom Fest
Palos Hills Fest
Lambs Farm’s Octoberfest
Hoffman Estates Fest
Elmwood Park Fest
Orpheum Theatre in Galesburg
The Taste of Lake Geneva
Grundy County Fair
Grays Lake Festival
Abbey Road on the River
The Karen Hart Band opened the 2008 Taste of Chicago on LIVE TV. "I love these guys" says Kori Chambers from FOX News Chicago, "These guys are awesome" reported Kim Vatis from NBC 5 News Chicago. Just a few of the comments made by local morning show personalities when talking about the Karen Hart Band (KHB).
Karen Hart leads this hard charging group of rockers with high-energy performances of the most popular artists in rock history. Her powerful vocals and onstage energy leaves no doubt this chic can rock like few others. The group tries to keep her from roaming around the audience, but somehow she gets loose and off she goes. A crime fighting "hart surgeon" by day, you can tell that nobody has more fun on stage than Karen Hart. All you have to do is look at her, with her welcoming smile, infectious stage manner and boundless energy, and you know she loves her job. Karen was musical at a young age. At the age of four, she was playing the piano and when she was big enough to hold a child-size guitar, she sat down and taught herself how to play it. Karen has also been singing since she can remember, she sings with a passion that tells you it is coming straight from her “hart”. Karen’s first gig was at The Rosemont Horizon, now the Allstate Arena, and she has been rockin’ ever since.
Norm Leonard is the quintessential lead guitar player, offering top-level professionalism while standing out as a unique talent in the Chicagoland music scene. He brings a dynamic, fun approach to the band that creates a high energy, bringing audiences to their feet and wanting more. In addition to Norm's guitar duties, he also adds multiple vocal stylings, allowing him to cover a wide range of artists.
The heat and the beat of the band comes from our veteran drummer Gerry Sasso. When this boy sets up his kit ‘lookout’ because the house will be a rockin. Gerry has performed with Chicago’s most popular entertainers including Danny and The Twister’s, Band on the Run, The "Fabulous Ambassador's" with Elvis impersonator Rick Saucedo and he performed live on all the studio albums for the world's most famous Elvis Tribute artist, Trent Carlini.
John comes to the Karen Hart Band with a long history of successful bands and has many years of experience as a vocalist and bassist. John's awesome talent for creating a solid foundation for KHB is exciting and refreshing. John's harmony and lead vocal abilities bring a dynamic selection of songs to the band. John was a founding member of "Essence" and "Target" and has been in other bands including "Souled Out" and "Selective Recall". John's fun, yet confident attitude towards music adds a high level of showmanship to KHB that keeps our audiences coming back for more.
The great thing about KHB is the band’s chemistry between themselves and the audience. The fans just love it when Karen and Norm go out and mingle playing their wireless guitars. In addition, to stay innovative, the band is constantly improving their show with new material and exciting musical arrangements with an intense energy level to lure future fans and keep their existing fans coming back. Whether your venue is a festival, concert in the park series, nightclub or private party, the Karen Hart Band can deliver the high-energy and entertaining performances your patrons deserve.
Karen Hart - Backup Vocals, Lead Vocal, Rhythm Guitar and Keyboard
Norm Leonard - Lead Guitar, Backup Vocals, Lead Vocals
Gerry Sasso - Drums, Backup Vocals, Lead Vocal
John Chisari - Bass, Backup Vocals, Lead Vocals
Having Fun with the Karen Hart Band!
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Nobody has more fun on stage than Karen Hart. All you have to do is look at her, with her welcoming ...Nobody has more fun on stage than Karen Hart. All you have to do is look at her, with her welcoming smile, infectious stage manner and boundless energy, and you know she loves her job.
“My main goal is to get people smiling and dancing and moving around, “the veteran guitarist and keyboardist asserts. “I’m already having fun. I want them to have fun. And then if they start having even more fun, I will too.”
The lissome blonde, first bitten by the music bug at the age of four, has been having fun onstage with her west-suburban-based KAREN HART BAND since 2007, when she brought together some former band mates for a private party. Guitarist Norm Leonard, the sole remaining member of that party band, had first played with Karen back in the ‘90s. “I was in a band with Norm for a while, GUI (pronounced gooey), which stood for Graphical User Interface,” she explains, “because Norm and I were both programmers at the time.” Drummer Gerry Sasso came from BAND ON THE RUN and bassist John Chisari (SELECTIVE RECALL) joined after the band’s 2008 Taste of Chicago performance.
With her rhythm section firmly in place, Karen has reached a comfort level onstage that lets her be herself, even if the crowd is as big as Taste of Chicago. “It’s all about level of preparedness,” she says. “I do a lot of research trying to figure out what are the good songs and what songs fit us. I also listen to our fans. I always take their input to put the songs that they want to hear into the set.”
Those songs include Gerry’s vocal take on DAVE MASON’s “Feelin’ Alright?” and Norm’s version of TOM PETTY’s “American Girl.” Karen drops the guitar for her cover of JIM PETERIK’s “Vehicle,” Norm ably suggesting Peterik’s original guitar solo while making it his own, over MIDI’d keyboard horn tracks. John’s pulsating bass line propels the two slashing guitarists through THE PRETENDERS’ “Mystery Achievement.”
A certain amount of serendipity has followed Karen through her career with a number of local bands. Starting in 1988, she played with CHEAP DATES for six years after drawing a crowd of admirers with a borrowed guitar during a break in their show. Her first gig with them was at the Rosemont Horizon, now the Allstate Arena. “That was my first gig ever and I just totally got hooked. It was so much fun,” she enthuses.
After that, “I was out of a band for a while,” Karen admits, “and I really got the itch, so I just started asking around, then looking through ads, and answered an ad for a lead guitar player, which I am not,” she insists. The audition turned into a jam session, and the jam session turned into yet another band, Z SHARP, which lasted a couple of years before Karen teamed up with Norm in GUI.
Her time as keyboard player in the PAT BENETAR tribute band BATTLEFIELD gave Karen her next big break. She had finished her warm-up set at Chicago City Limits when the headliners asked to speak to her. “The lead singer says, “We just saw you play with BATTLEFIELD, and we’d like to know if you’d be interested in joining BAND ON THE RUN as Linda McCartney?” And I said, “Wow, did I sing that bad?’” Karen laughs. She stayed with them for about five years, until the band dissolved around the time of that private party.
Now a regular attraction on the local club and festival circuits, Karen and the boys like to play popular songs that people can relate to, and dance to. “I actually go out into the audience a lot, to interact on a one-on-one basis, to get everybody having fun, too,” she stresses, singling out MELISSA ETHERIDGE as a personal favorite. The Etheridge version of TOM PETTY’s “Refugee” is a particular crowd pleaser.
“The other ones that I like are the ones that I can get out in the crowd and dance to. So what we’ve done with a few of the songs, we try to do them close to the originals but we add a longer outro (“Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Feelin’ Alright?”), meaning, Karen goes out in the audience while Norm does a whole bunch of leads,” she laughs again, “so I can dance with everybody.”
Karen brings out the heart-shaped guitar for ELVIS’s “Burning Love,” her growls adding emphases as Leonard fondles his leggy-lady guitar. “Norm has a lot of guitars that he brings to the show,” Karen remarks, “and each one is always a surprise. He’s got the girl guitar, and he’s got the tommy gun guitar, and he’s got a clear see-through guitar. I can’t remember all of them.”
Guitarist Leonard effortlessly rips off some fluid solos on his red Stratocaster but the focus is rightly on Hart. Soft-spoken in person, Karen can get tough onstage. She rocks it like she owns it, long hair blowing in the breeze, and never once stops smiling, and to her that’s the point.
“I think that’s really the main goal right now, for me,” Karen sums up, “to make sure everybody’s having a good time.”
Girls that ROCK!
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I work very hard as a leader, musician and as a person so that I can be an empowering role model for...I work very hard as a leader, musician and as a person so that I can be an empowering role model for young girls that may have aspirations to someday ROCK! We are the minority so I want all of them to know anything is possible if they work hard and follow their dream.
I'm actually a classically trained pianist and violinist………”One time at band camp…”
I love this business, you meet the most interesting and talented people. The Gin Blossims, The Smithereens, Dennis DeYoung, Patty Smyth, Davy Jones and my favorite rocker - Jim Peterik – ROCK ON JP.
We opened the 2008 Taste of Chicago on LIVE TV, it’s the first time I ever got up at 2:00am for a gig instead of packing up at 2:00am. We met all the local morning show personalities and I still hear from people they saw us dancing with Kim Vatis from NBC 5 New Chicago as she played my heart-shaped guitar.
The business of rock and roll is a lot of hard work, and sometimes there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. But the feeling I get after rocking out an audience is worth all the hard work! And I'll do it until I can't do it no more!
They say that in order to be successful, you should surround yourself with really talented and creative people, and I'd like to think I've done that when I hired Norman Leonard (guitar), Gerry Sasso (drums) and John Chisari (bass). I'm not sure how this band would sound without the talent and inspiration those guys bring to the Karen Hart Band!
High energy: Karen Hart Band kicks off 59th annual Lena Fall Festival tonight
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With high energy rockin’ the stage, the Karen Hart Band will jump start a weekend of music, fun and ...With high energy rockin’ the stage, the Karen Hart Band will jump start a weekend of music, fun and games at 7 p.m. today at the 59th annual Lena Fall Festival. This is a band with a well-known name in the Chicago area and in the Midwest. They will be bringing a high-energy show to the stage, performing classic rock, a bit of country rock and for a bit of the something different – alternative rock.
Karen Hart leads this hard-charging group of rockers and brings her powerful voice and takes her energy from stage to crowd. Hart said one of her favorite things about performing is engaging the crowd into her act and the best way for her to do this is to mix with the crowd and to bring members of the crowd onto the stage.
Hart may be the heart of this band, but the other three band mates help deliver a sound that will become more familiar as the show ensues. Hart is an accomplished musician, who dates her roots back to guitar and piano as a young girl hanging out with her aunt. She attributes her love for music to her aunt. Piano drew her in and then she picked up the violin in fourth grade, with piano lessons following in the eighth grade. Piano introduced Hart to a love of music and picking up the violin was a way she could pursue music in the string form. The violin is just one of the instruments she uses to compliment the sounds she loves to create.
“I remember falling in love with music when I was 4 years old,” Hart said. “From then I just kept moving forward.
“My true love is the guitar, which I began playing at 9-years-old, and from then on the music just started to bubble out of me,” she said.
Hart admits to giving her all during a show and in this interview stated she was sore from the previous night’s show. She is humble about the high energy of the show she fronts and said she doesn’t just stand and sing – she takes to dance and runs about the stage.
“I draw my energy from the crowds and when the guys and I take stage, the show takes form and from then until the end of the show, it is non-stop fun and rock,” she said.
This band is made up of lead guitarist Norm Leonard, drummer Gerry Sasso and Jon Chisari on bass. Hart said the lead guitarist plays a wireless guitar, which allows him to join her in the audience to draw the audience into the fun of the show.
“Our music is based on the theme of classic rock,” Hart said. “We tailor our sets to the audience, but we also try to offer a variety of the music people are familiar with – it’s all about the energy and the fun of it all.”
This energetic rock show opens the weekend of fun for this annual festival and Hart said she loves mixing with her audience and loves the flavor of the closeness of small town festivals. She said she spoke with members of the band Tin Horse who played Lena Fall Festival in 2008 and she said they relayed to her “the Lena Festival was loads of fun and the food was awesome.”
“I’m looking forward to hitting the town in the afternoon to ready for our show,” Hart said. “People will get caught up in our show.”
The band is well known in the Chicago area and has opened for such major acts as the Gin Blossoms, Smithereens, Ides of March and Dennis DeYoung.
The Karen Hart Band ROCKS!
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“I love these guys” says Kori Chambers from Fox Chicago, “These guys are awesome” reported Kim Vatis...“I love these guys” says Kori Chambers from Fox Chicago, “These guys are awesome” reported Kim Vatis from NBC Chicago. Just a few of the comments made by local morning show personalities when talking about the Karen Hart Band (KHB) as they opened the 2008 Taste of Chicago. “You got to love it when you are opening the Taste of Chicago and you hear great things like that” said Karen. “It was awesome being on TV but a little strange getting up at 2 AM to go to a gig instead of packing up at 2 AM.” KHB also had a great time slot right before Stevie Wonder on Saturday night where they rocked out the lake front.
When asked what makes the band special, lead guitarist Norm Leonard replied, “In this day where original and tribute bands rule the music scene, KHB harkens back to a day when you closed off the street and your friends’ band played for beer and everyone had a good time drinking and dancing.” Karen adds “The only difference is we are a rock solid band with four great musicians who all sing lead and background vocals. It makes us a unique cover band.”
“When I’m asked what sets us apart, I like to think it is the fact we are fronted by a powerful female vocalist who can flat out rock” says Gerry Sasso, the band’s drummer. “Karen does not limit herself to female artists. It doesn’t matter if the artist is male or female she’ll rock it out. She does a kick ass version of Vehicle by Ides of March.”
John Chisari, the bass player, stated “One of the big reasons I wanted to join KHB was the wide range of music we play. With this group we can cover classic rock with plenty of alternative tunes, a nice mix of blues and a few country rock songs. And we are always adding new music so we don’t get bored and neither does our audience.”
“Norm and I have a lot of energy and a great chemistry on stage”, said Karen. ”He is an outstanding guitar player and puts on an awesome show rocking on his one of many wild guitars”. “It’s worth coming to our show just to see what shape his guitar will be that night”. “I’m making him leave the naked lady axe home for the festival season!”
When asked why she likes being in a rock band, without hesitation Hart said “the people”. “We have fans from all over the Midwest come out to see us play and it was awesome when they nominated us for Best Classic Rock Band, Best Female Front for a Band and Best Rock Band”. “We also get to meet a lot of wonderful people in the industry having played in front of groups like the Gin Blossoms, The Smithereens, Dennis DeYoung, Infinity and American English”.
KHB’s “Summer of ’09 Tour” is kicking off this month with a bunch of great festivals. Highlights include KHB warming up Davy Jones at West Chicago Railroad Days and they will be playing just before Hi-Infidelity at Northlake Days. They end their summer tour playing for one of their favorite charity events at the Eli’s Cheesecake Factory benefit for the New Horizon Center for the Developmentally Disabled and The Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Check out their website www.KarenHartBand.com for updated information and added dates or make it easy on yourself and signup for the email list online and Karen sends out a periodic newsletter to keep you current on their upcoming shows.
Temulac Open House 6/06 8:00p Lena Fest 9/04 7:30p
Time Out West 6/13 9:30p Taste of Polonia 9/06 3:30p
Northlake Days 6/26 7:30p Schaumburg Septemberfest 9/07 5:30p
Bartlett 4th of July 7/05 3:00p Bloomingdale Septemberfest 9/12 3:30p
West Chicago Railroad Days 7/10 7:30p Eli’s Cheesecake Fest 10/3,4 tba
Special Thanks from KHB – We would really like to thank all our loyal fans, Addie our beautiful photographer, Wally our carrier of heavy stuff, our sound crew Brian and Mark and all the great musicians we now include in our circle of friends. Your support keeps us rocking! We would also like to thank NiteLife for showcasing all the great musical talent in the Chicago area. We not only advertise here but we also use it to find out where are fellow musicians/friends are playing so we can support them! ROCK ON!
To contact Karen, send her an email Karen@KarenHartBand.com or call the band hotline 630-445-1580.
Day Job & Night Job, Why Not?
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Local entrepreneur and entertainer, Karen Hart, is a successful business executive during the day bu...Local entrepreneur and entertainer, Karen Hart, is a successful business executive during the day but a hard driving rock n’ roller at night. Karen is a partner in a highly successful software company in Naperville, Park Street Solutions Company, which she co-founded in 1999. At night, however, her passion is the stage where she and fellow band mates rock out in local night clubs and summer festivals with the Karen Hart Band or KHB for short.
While KHB was founded in 2006, Karen and her fellow band mates have been rocking the Chicago area for well over 20 years. Karen is the lead singer and plays guitar and keyboard. Other band members include Carol Stream resident Pete Melody on bass, Berwyn resident Norman Leonard on lead guitar, and Elk Grove Village resident Gerry Sasso on drums. Both Leonard and Sasso also perform lead vocals giving the band a well rounded and diverse sound.
According to Hart “The great thing about this band is the level of talent each performer brings to the stage. Norm is an extremely talented lead guitarist, I would say a virtuoso. He not only entertains the audience with his onstage antics but he is always entertaining us. Gerry, our most veteran performer, is an extremely accomplished drummer having performed with a long list of local legends in the surrounding Chicago area and is the foundation KHB was built on. Pete can pound out a bass line that you feel in your soul. His natural talent and self-assured style is a big part of what keeps the band tight.”
Karen’s passion for music is evident in her performances, she puts her ‘hart’ and soul into the music and it really shows on stage. You can tell she’s having a blast when she is performing and watch out because her enthusiasm is very contagious. “It’s a lot of work running the business side of the band and also being one of the musicians, but it is well worth the payoff of doing what you love, having fun on stage and watching the audience having fun right along with you”.
Hart’s hard-working nature is also evident in her day job. Park Street’s latest endeavor is in the health care industry incorporating the best in modern data warehouse design practices, along with Park Street's advanced knowledge modeling technology, to create a highly sophisticated solution for clinical data management. Park Street also develops solutions that adapt enterprise systems to the outside world for a wide variety of customers in the healthcare, financial, manufacturing and telecommunications industries.
Good Times at Good Old Days
Karen Hart jams on her guitar during the band's performance at Good Old Days Sept. 6.
Here are some of the Classic Rock artists KHB covers;
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Grand Funk Railrod
Ides of March
And many more……………